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“Don’t Be Captive to the World”
Colossians 2:6-8


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Tenth Sunday after Pentecost—July 28, 2013

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Last week I served as the pastoral delegate from our circuit to the national convention of our denomination, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.  We were blessed to have a very peaceful convention, something that sadly is not common among religious denominations these days.  The past decade or so most other mainline American denominations have veered off onto an extremely radical path, adopting at their church conventions shocking concessions to the twisted immorality of our modern culture, throwing out the clear teachings of the Bible.

That’s exactly what Paul warns against in today’s Epistle Reading, giving up Christian doctrine and morality, giving in to the false teachings and immorality of the world: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”

We rejoice that our denomination still holds to the teachings of the Bible.  But, that must never make us smug, or complacent, or holier-than-thou.  Because, one of the clearest teachings of the Bible is that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  As Paul says in Romans, “What shall we conclude then? Are we any better?  No, not at all! We have already made the charge that [all] alike are all under sin.  As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one.’”

Not even you, not even me.  If we really believe the teachings of the Bible, then we must all confess as we do in our Liturgy, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. . .  we poor sinners confess unto you that we are by nature sinful and unclean . . . I, a poor, miserable sinner, confess unto you all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended you, and justly deserved your temporal and eternal punishment.”

But, the Good News is the Bible also teaches you have full forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life through God’s Son, your Savior, Jesus Christ: “But if we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. . .  Almighty God in his mercy has given his Son to die for you, and for his sake forgives you all your sins. . .  To those who believe in Jesus Christ he gives the power to become the children of God and bestows on them the Holy Spirit. May the Lord, who has begun this good work in us, bring it to completion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The word “faithful” comes from a combination of those two words: “faith-full.”  To be faithful means that as a disciple of Christ you are “full” of faith, in two ways.

First of all, in your heart and soul, in your inner being, you are full of personal faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  As Paul says in Romans, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

But, it’s not just your heart on the inside that is full of faith.  Because, as a faithful disciple of Christ, your faith on the inside will also show itself on the outside.  Your daily life will be “faith-full,” full of faith.  As Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”  Peter put it this way: “Abstain from sinful desires which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the unbelievers that . . . they may see your good deeds and glorify God.”

So, rather than giving in to the world and its wicked ways, you are called by Christ your Savior to let your light shine, to live out for him a “faith-full” life in the world.  As Paul says in Philippians, “Be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and depraved generation.” 

Recent events in our culture, and sadly even in many church bodies, challenge us, as individual disciples of Christ, as a congregation, and as a denomination.  Challenge us to remain faithful to the teachings and the morality of God’s Word, challenge us to live “faith-full” lives as “children of God . . . in the midst of a crooked and depraved generation.”

In today’s Epistle Reading, Paul tells us how you can life a “faith-full” life for Christ: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” 

That’s a beautiful description of the faithful Christian life.  That’s the purpose for Bible reading and study and personal prayer; that’s the purpose for our worship here together in the Lord’s house; that’s the purpose for Baptism, Absolution and Communion.  God’s Word, worship, prayer, and the Sacraments all empower you to live a truly “faith-full” life.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.  See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”

The “hollow and deceptive philosophy” of the world takes many different forms.  It may be supposed scientific principles that really aren’t neutral, objective science, but inculcate an atheistic worldview.  It may be moral relativism that says there is no right or wrong; the only thing that’s wrong is claiming to know right or wrong.  It may be religious relativism that says all religions lead to the same God; the only religion rejected is one that claims, as Jesus did, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”  You are continually bombarded every day with the world’s hollow and deceptive philosophy of an atheistic worldview and moral and religious relativism.  In the media, in academia, and sadly even in many churches.  You are continually bombarded every day with the world’s hollow and deceptive philosophy that seeks to take you captive.  As Peter warned, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.”

How can you resist the devil, the world, and your own sinful flesh?  How can you repel their hollow and deceptive philosophy, and instead cling to Christ?  How can you live for him a “faith-full” life in the midst of a crooked and depraved generation?  That’s why you’re here today.  That’s why you read and study your Bible.  That’s why you take time for prayer.  That’s why you kneel at the Lord’s altar this morning to receive his body and blood, “to strengthen and preserve you steadfast in the true faith unto life everlasting.”

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.  See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”

Amen.

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